Celtic sweep aside opposition to progress to Champions League group stage

Celtic team celebrate after Gary Hooper scoresCeltic progressed to the Champions League group stage for the first time in four years after a comfortable victory over Swedish side Helsingborgs last night.

Neil Lennon’s side took the initiative into the second leg with a 2-0 win already in the bag from the first leg clash at the Olympia Stadium, with goals from Kris Commons and Georgios Samaras. Giving themselves a great chance of progressing into the next phase of the competition, the Scottish side could smell blood and extended their lead to 3-0 on aggregate through a Gary Hooper poke from a corner. The tie was well and truly put to bed in the second half, with another goal coming from a well-worked corner and powerful header from Victor Wanyama. It rounded off another highly professional job by Lennon’s side, who can now begin to contemplate what lies in store.

The group stage draw will commence today at 16:45 BST. Celtic are currently unassigned a pot, but are expected to be in pot four. Premier League champions Manchester City are sat in pot two, and could face a ‘group of death’ with the reigning league champions from the Bundesliga (Borussia Dortmund), La Liga (Real Madrid) and Serie A (Juventus) all potential group rivals. Current holders Chelsea, along with Arsenal and Manchester United, sit in pot one, as they have a higher UEFA co-efficient. Chelsea won the tournament for the first time in their history by beating Bayern Munich on penalties in the final at the German side’s stadium.

Likely pots:

Pot One: Chelsea, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester United, Bayern Munich, Arsenal, Porto, AC Milan.

Pot Two: Valencia, Benfica, Shakhtar Donetsk, Zenit St Petersburg, Schalke, Manchester City, Braga.

Pot Three: Olympiakos, Ajax, Anderlecht, Juventus, Paris St Germain, Galatasaray.

Pot Four: Borussia Dortmund, BATE Borisov, Dinamo Zagreb, Malaga, Montpellier, FC Nordsjaelland.

Celtic, Lille, Spartak Moscow, CFR Cluj and Dynamo Kiev yet to be assigned pots having come through qualifiers on Wednesday.

The group stages start on 18th/19th September and finish on 4th/5th December.